Literature Study GuidesWatchmenExcerpt From Treasure Island Treasury Of Comics Summary

Watchmen | Study Guide

Alan Moore

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Watchmen | Excerpt from Treasure Island Treasury of Comics : Reprinted from Chapter 5 | Summary



This book excerpt details the creation of Tales of the Black Freighter, a long-running comic book series. Originally conceived by artist Joe Orlando and relatively new writer Max Shea, it tells the story of "a vessel from Hell" that takes on the souls of "evil men so that they may walk its blood-stained decks for all eternity." Orlando left the project after nine issues, and artist Walt Feinberg took over. One of their more notable collaborations was the two-part "Marooned" story in issues 23 and 24. The series ended soon thereafter, and Shea disappeared from the public eye.


Tales of the Black Freighter is the comic book the black teenager reads every day at the newsstand, and its writer, Max Shea, is the missing man seen in news reports and on posters all across New York City. The circumstances of Shea's disappearance are just as mysterious as one of his stories: "he apparently vanished from his home one morning and has not been seen since." Shea doesn't come across as the nicest guy in this article, though his talent is indisputable. It is, perhaps, one of the only reasons why people would continue to work with such a "moody and temperamental writer."

The most important information in this excerpt isn't the plot of "Marooned" or the backstory of The Black Freighter (although that's interesting and helpful when trying to understand exactly what's going on in the comic-within-the-comic). What's really important is the kind of work Shea does. His work is "uniformly dark and sinister, balancing metaphysical terrors against an unnerving sense of reality." In short he's good at scaring people and making them feel like the things they fear are real. That comes into play later when Shea's involvement with Adrian Veidt's master plan is revealed.

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